Dear Pradhan Mantriji

Spare a thought for our ill-treated and demotivated teachers when you take the stage on Teachers’ Day.

Published:September 5, 2014 12:05 am
Their salary and work conditions are pathetic. Most states have come up with schemes to recruit cheap, unqualified teachers. Their salary and work conditions are pathetic. Most states have come up with schemes to recruit cheap, unqualified teachers.

By: Yogendra Yadav

I have had occasions to disagree with your politics and policies. But I write this letter not as a member of an opposition party but as an ex-teacher, a parent and a citizen.

I come from a teachers’ family. My great grandfather was a schoolteacher, and so was my grandfather. My father retired as a college teacher and my mother as a schoolteacher. I had little choice, especially since I was born on Teachers’ Day. So, I taught at a university and married someone who is a university teacher. I am no longer a teacher by profession, but remain one at heart.

My daughter tells me that her school timings have been changed for today: instead of 8am to 2pm, it will be 12pm to 5pm. It is not a big bother for her. Perhaps she likes this change. But what bothers her is that all this is done to ensure that the entire school can listen to you on a big screen. She does not know what you are going to speak about. Now, she has no objection to listening to the prime minister. What she doesn’t understand is why she could not do so on TV at home. It’s a free country, she says, why can’t I have a choice? If it had to be done at school, why couldn’t you adjust your schedule to suit school timings?

I know you don’t mean to do this. Perhaps the decision was taken by some over-enthusiastic, control-freak babu. But even before you speak, you have unwittingly given my daughter a lesson in the rituals of power that go with the infamous VVIP culture: everything can be changed to suit saheb’s convenience. I don’t need to tell you this. Children learn little from official moral sermons. They learn from how their parents, teachers and peers conduct themselves.

I do not know how her teachers look upon this change. They are too discrete to talk about it, but I suspect they resent it. Not just for petty reasons of convenience but for something deeper. Their school has a beautiful way of celebrating Teachers’ Day that puts them at the centre. Now it puts you at the centre. It’s Teachers’ Day today (not Children’s Day), let it remain their day.

Perhaps the best way to mark this day would be to reflect on the status of about 50 lakh teachers in our country. A small minority of these teachers has a regular job, grade, scale, provident fund and all. They are paid better than my parents were, but they do not enjoy the same respect. My wife flares up when someone says that teaching is a good job for “ladies”, for what they mean is that it is full salary for a part-time job. This reflects a common perception of teachers as overpaid employees, as small cogs in the sarkari wheel. Those teachers who do their work honestly are condemned to face this hostile perception.

The condition of a majority of teachers is much worse. Their salary and working conditions are pathetic. Most state governments have come up with schemes to recruit cheap, unqualified teachers. These temporary, ad hoc or contractual teachers have no job security and get paid a small fraction of what a regular teacher would earn. Those who work in private schools and colleges usually get paid much less than what they sign on paper. Even in our colleges, teachers do not have a desk of their own, let alone an office or academic facilities.

Teachers’ recruitment is a scandal. Haryana’s former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala got caught and convicted in a scam involving teachers’ recruitment. He was just unlucky to have been caught doing something that everyone does and gets away with. Teachers’ education is a national shame. While we have done something to redeem our LLB degrees, the BEd degree continues to be one of the weakest links in our higher education chain. Most of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee on teachers’ education are still to be implemented.

As you speak to the students and (I hope) teachers this afternoon, please spare a thought for how we expect these underpaid, ill-treated and demotivated teachers to impart to children all the lofty values that we all love to talk about.

Perhaps my daughter would change her mind if you have some special announcement for her Madams and Sirs.

Yours,
Yogendra Yadav

The writer is senior fellow, CSDS, currently on leave, and chief spokesperson of the Aam Aadmi Party

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    Ashok Chowgule
    Sep 5, 2014 at 2:55 am
    It seems to me that it is the contention of Yogendra Yadav that the problems that the teachers have is the happening of the last 100 days or so!As in the past, it is clear that Yogendraji has very little knowledge of the intelligence of the readers. Furthermore, why has he not identified the name of the opposition party. And he should tell the citizens of this country what he has done to alleviate the problems of the teachers before he joined the political party. He was teaching at an insute funded by the state, and he was a member of the University Grants Commission. In all these positions, he was paid by the society. He has not fulfilled his dharma to that society.Namaste.Ashok ChowguleGoa, India.
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      Mangoworm
      Sep 5, 2014 at 1:55 am
      Unnecessary article.Is it not true, Mr. Yadav, that the AAP, a party you are a senior member of, as had members accused of corruption? Is it not true that you were routed in your Lok Sabha election? Don't you know that your party resigning from power in Delhi after 49 days is a Himalayan ber?So please, don't criticise dear Pradhan Mantriji, who won the elections by a thumping margin.
      Reply
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        ashish
        Sep 5, 2014 at 12:38 pm
        Dear Mr Yadav,Maybe your daughter school is morning time , but other children school at noon time. So,either way some children will need to reschedule their school timing to join everyone.I am confirmed , that you are not getting anything to say against Mr . Modi , so you are indulging in these kind of foolish techniques. This kind suits Mr . Rahul hi but not mature guys like yourself. Go get something other real issue to come into limelight.Ashish.
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          Amit Juneja
          Sep 5, 2014 at 8:19 am
          Why the students needs to go to school for studies. they should have freedom for that as well?. We should or anyone wait to comment before Our PM gives his speech. I agree it may not be the right time to speak to childerns on Teacher's day. But it may possible our PM give a good adive to childern to have respect, fath, trust in their teacher
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            Harish G
            Sep 5, 2014 at 6:33 am
            Yadav is a drama queen, much like the rest of the AAP leadership. If he really wanted to write to the PM, he should have done just that, instead of leaking it to the media.
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              Vikram
              Sep 5, 2014 at 10:18 am
              Mr. Yadav, take rest at home watch pogo with your kids if you are not open minded. Instead of finding mistakes of others, find good things about them. Jantar Mantar is free, you can make Dharna with your jobless supporters. You can tell your kid to celebrate Independence day, Teachers day, hi Jayanthi etc at your home. No need to send your kid to school. Even I am from a teachers family. You are not the only one.
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                Amit
                Sep 5, 2014 at 7:29 am
                Modi is doing the right thing to encourage the children, as national building starts with children, who become the youth of India in some time...As a PM all PM should have done this, but it requires a Modi to change the system in India... As a child I would have been proud to interact with or listen to our PM...
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                  Amogh Joshi
                  Sep 5, 2014 at 2:07 am
                  Wow too good YY.....
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                    Anil Maheshwari
                    Sep 5, 2014 at 6:38 am
                    A pertinent issue has been raised forcefully by Mr. Yadav but it would have been better had he also point out the role of the teaching community these days. Leave aside the part-time job, the teachers, once adored by the students and society, hardly do any job. About four decades ago, Prof. A.A. Suroor, a noted educationist, admitted in the Young Indian, edited by Sh. Chandra Shekhar that it was unfortunate that most of the degree college teachers get full time pay for the part-time job. The situation has come to such a nadir that teachers hardly do any job in the schools, colleges or universities. Can't we borrow the experience of China when during the Cultural Revolution, which was derided like any thing in India, all the educational insutions were closed for a period of two years and the teachers were given the option to either work in the fields or factories. One single decision made a desirable change. About three decades ago, I tried to teach history to my son, a student of VIIIth cl. I was shocked to find sentences in the history book, edited by none but great historian Romila Thapar, running into 73 words. Naturally, the students used to be repulsive of the subject. My son's interest in the subject history developed only when he read the book "The Great Mughals" by Abraham Eraly.
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                      Anil Girotra
                      Sep 5, 2014 at 1:51 am
                      Highlighting teachers' issues is really necessary particularly on this day and I congratulate Mr Yadav for that. But making an issue of PM speaking to the students and teachers or on timing of his speech smacks of prejudice due to dislike for someone who after several years brought this day into focus and is bold enough to talk about the issues confronting the nation and education in this case. He has been speaking about the skill developement , employability , imparting good values in sons by the parents etc even before this celeberations of Guru Utsav. It is good that mr Yadav has no objection to calling teacher as guru unlike some other politicians.I am sure that this PM will hear the teachers directly today and do something to address real issues they have. I appreciate however Mr Yadav to have indirectly brought in focus the quality of teachers( ills in recruitment) which requires to be tackelled . Some kind of accountability is required. You can fix accountability provided they are given adequate resources- ries , enough teachers etc.
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                        AK
                        Sep 5, 2014 at 6:37 am
                        Yadav Ji .. Aren't you feeling ashamed by bringing your innocent daughter to take on your political opponents. You are still not out of shadow of yur ex boss (Madam Ji). Grow up and do something constructive.
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                          Anup S
                          Sep 5, 2014 at 7:53 am
                          I support AAP ideology still would like to say Indian Prime Minister started taking initiative to connect with common people. It is not that easy to work out things but still a collective efforts is been taken by every one to ensure that somewhere it has to start. So why not with our young generation. Words are meant to play so dose numbers. But I am sure an interaction will certainly help every one. Govt. to form new policies, common people to put their views and thoughts directly with PM
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                            Usha
                            Sep 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm
                            Yadav-type teachers! You know why India is this way!
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                              Arun
                              Sep 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm
                              Dear Yogendraji,Why don't you look at this event as a small change in student's daily routine. We all always need break from routine work.You unnecessary politicizing this and using daughter for your politics.
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                                Ashok
                                Sep 5, 2014 at 7:47 am
                                Absolutely Right !
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                                  Ashok
                                  Sep 5, 2014 at 7:45 am
                                  I hope you heard the Independence Day speech of Mr. Modi.. All schools will have toilets in the next 2 years. Work has already started as I have seen this myself.. And that's called the Modi Effect !!!
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                                    Ashok
                                    Sep 5, 2014 at 7:54 am
                                    Yogendra Yadav Ji, Please go take a walk... Politics is NOT for you.. You were a big failure ! Why comment when you could not do much ! Atleast listen to what ModiJi has to say before commenting.. There could be something interesting that you and your daughter may come across (Provided you both have open minds)
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                                      Ashish
                                      Sep 5, 2014 at 11:01 pm
                                      AAP leeaders have the habit of bringing in their daughters to prove a political point. This time Yogendra brought in his daughter to rubbbish Modi.Last time it was Kejriwals daughters exam that got him extension for CMs bungalow.Just do things on your own, dont involve your kids now, alright ?
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                                        ashish
                                        Sep 5, 2014 at 6:39 am
                                        you dont understand any thing...MR mukesh here also u related some one with his caste..spite of some saying truth with humble requests.
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                                          Ashok
                                          Sep 6, 2014 at 5:07 am
                                          Good write up, you have taken the opportunity to speak out, nothing so important that you have pointed out and not been taken care offIt is very easy to project any thing as an issue...every step taken may have some thing which may not suit each one but after all new initiatives have to be taken up.
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                                            Atul
                                            Sep 5, 2014 at 10:21 am
                                            Dear Yogendra yadav ji,What is you problem in your life. if you were teacher so you should appreciate this because some one is taking some initiative. you are sitting at home it dose not mean that every buddy is free and they can schedule there timings according to you.Its a humble request to you " Keep your Mouth Shut"
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